John and Maggie Anderson are taking on a challenge they call the Empowerment Experiment. They have publicly committed to buy goods and services from black owned businesses for one year and are encouraging other black families to make the same pledge.
Of course, this challenge is a difficult one since they need to research ownership of stores they shop at and possibly travel longer-than-normal distances to go shopping. The Anderson’s are a five months into the process, and are telling their story – and tracking expenses – on their Web site.
Many understand about giving back to your community, but why does it have to be a color thing? I don’t think it would be interesting to go into the what if a white family did this example, but I do question the message that is being sent.
What if you happen to be a white business owner who recently invested in the community the Anderson’s live in? How would it make you feel if a good percentage of your clientele were shopping elsewhere – even for only a year – because you are white? How about adding the fact that most of your employees may be black?
John Anderson says they are not suggesting that you go out and exclude other businesses owned by other races – and Maggie laughs – but in reality that is exactly what they are doing. It may just be a study or social experiment, but I think this type of initiative may do more harm than good in the long run.
I get that they are trying to move barriers for black business owners (great), change the perception that black business owners have stores with “poor quality, poor service, high prices, [and] no selection” (I did not know), showcase businesses that defy that stereotype, and improve the community they live in – all admirable – but is this the right way to do it?
What say you? Your comments below please.